Gambia President Vows to Kill Everyone on Death Row

Human rights groups horrified at Yahya Jammeh's announcement
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 23, 2012 7:50 AM CDT
Gambian President Yahya Jammeh speaks during a press conference following his reelection in this Sept. 23, 2006 file photo.   (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell, file)

(Newser) – Human rights groups are condemning President Yahya Jammeh for his vow to execute every death row prisoner in Gambia next month, breaking an almost 30-year hiatus on executions in the country. "All those guilty of serious crimes and are condemned will face the full force of the law," Jammeh said in a Sunday speech, reports the LA Times. Gambian trials are notoriously unfair, and death sentences are often handed out for "treason," meaning any opposition to Jammeh, CNN reports.

Cocaine and heroin possession were also reportedly made capital crimes in 2010. It's unclear how many people are on death row; the AFP counts 47, but Gambian authorities say the number is much higher. "Any attempt to carry out this threat would be both deeply shocking and a major setback for human rights in Gambia," an Amnesty International official said. Gambia last executed a prisoner in 1985. Jammeh announced a similar mass execution in 2009, but never followed through. (Read more Gambia stories.)

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